INTRODUCTION

The Catholic Church has been accused in our age of superstition in the prayer which she makes for the faithful departed, inasmuch as by this she supposes two truths which, it is maintained, do not exist, namely: that the departed are in punishment and need, and that they can be helped. Whereas, the departed are either damned or saved; the damned are in pain, but it is irremediable; and the saved enjoy perfect bliss: so the latter have no need and the former have no means of receiving help; wherefore it is useless to pray to God for the departed. Such is the summing up of the accusation. It ought surely to suffice anybody who wishes to frame a right judgment of this accusation to know that the accusers were private persons and the accused the universal body of the Church. But still, as the temper of our age has led to the submitting all things, however sacred, religious, and authoritative they may be, to the control and censure of everybody, many persons of honour and eminence have taken the cause of the Church in hand to defend it, considering that they could not better employ their piety and learning than in the defence of her, at whose hands they had received all their spiritual good, -Baptism, Christian doctrine, and the Scriptures themselves. Their reasons are so convincing that if they were properly balanced and weighed against those of the accusers their validity would at once be recognised. But unhappily, sentence has been given without the party being heard. Have we not reason, all we who are domestics and children of the Church, to make ourselves appellants, and to complain of the partiality of the judges, leaving on one side for the present their incompetence? We appeal then from the judges not instructed to themselves instructed, and from judgments given, the parties not heard, to judgments, parties heard. Let us beg all those who wish to judge of this difference to consider our allegations and proofs so much the more attentively as there is question not of the condemnation of the accused party who cannot be condemned by her inferiors, but of the condemnation or salvation of the judges.